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Googleshng - February 27 '03- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time

Dear gods. Do you realize what I just made reference to? Anyway, thus far I'm actually pleasantly surprised by Xenosaga. What gameplay there is pretty nifty at first glance, and there even seems to be some attrition to the battles before you get everyone a fast deathblow.

Meanwhile to continue my review as an anime series: The dub is surprisingly good for the most part, but the first episode is HIGHLY derivitive of Gunbuster.

Sadly I haven't seen a rehash of the ultimate fight scene thus far.

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Apples and Oranges.

IÕm a huge Final Fantasy fan and IÕve had my share of both western and Japanese RPGs.

However, there is a group of hardcore AD&D fans who say that Japanese RPGs like the Final Fantasy series are not RPGs. Instead they refer to them as SDGs (story driven games).

There reason is this. In traditional RPGs, you create the characters and assume his role, whereas in Japanese RPGs the character is already created and you tag along. Japanese RPGs are much more linear, whereas western RPGs have many side-quests to choose from, even from the start. In addition, the choices you make early in a western RPG can have different outcomes later in the game, whereas Japanese RPGs the decisions you make donÕt matter later in the game.

They also say that Japanese RPGs place too much emphasis on story and cinematics. You spend too much time watching movies and reading text rather than hacking monsters and stuff.

Also, the RPG genre was invented in America, so western RPGs are the true RPGs. BaldurÕs Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Planescape: Torment are true RPGs. The Japanese games are imitations.

To be honest, I heavily disagree with these guys. IÕve played AD&D games like BaldurÕs Gate and IÕve play most of the Final Fantasy series. I still consider Final Fantasy RPGs because they have all the other elements like leveling up, towns and shops, talking to townspeople, monsters in dungeons, etc. ItÕs like apples and oranges. TheyÕre both fruits, just different tastes.

But these guys argue that Òrole-playingÓ means that you create a character and assume that role. They say that Japanese RPGs donÕt deserve the title Òrole-playing gameÓ because theyÕre missing the most basic element.

IÕm at a loss and I have no idea how to counter their arguments. Can you help?

Googleshng:
Well first of all, anyone who says that console RPGs have nothing to do with paper/PC RPGs, AND that console RPGs are imitations of them, is already countering their own argument. Past that, well, the first point IS true, but so what? Many genre labels are meaningless. By all rights, Adventure games should be called Puzzle games, and Puzzle games should be called Epilepsy Enducers.

If we're getting into semantics though, creating your own character has absolutely nothing to do with roleplaying. Roleplaying is just when you act in character for whatever character you have. Ironically enough, when it comes to console and computer games, it's a whole lot easier to do that when you're playing anything BUT an RPG. I mean, when I play Alpha Centauri I REALLY get into the head of whichever faction I'm playing and act accordingly.

 
Odd group to defend.

Googleshng,

There's a question at the bottom of this, but the top part is a complaint that I have which I think deserves attention.

I've noticed this kind of thing a lot in the past with most of the previous Q & A hosts, and it just keeps returning to bug me. People complain about the gamers who started with FFVII as their first RPG as not really being qualified to "talk shop." As one of your readers wrote in yesterday, "If I were a malevolent dictator, I'd make it illegal for people like 'RPG MASTER Stick' to exist. I'm not sure he even fits the qualifications of an RPG Master, let alone a stick." Another letter noted that gamers who begin with FFVII are "newer" to RPGs. In other places, there is a lot of criticism of people who started with this game. The criticism needs to stop.

First of all, they're not "new" to the genre in any sense. FFVII came out how long ago? Five years? That's right. A person who was thirteen then would be a more mature and discerning eighteen year old now (although I realize that not everyone becomes more mature and discerning with age, but it's a common trend). RPG MASTER Stick himself noted that he has played through the games that are generally considered to be "classics." Should people be allowed to deride him based solely on the first game he played? No. If he picked up FFVII when it first came out and has been playing RPGs ever since, then he's been playing RPGs for five years.

I began playing RPGs with Super Mario RPG and loved it. After that, I picked up Breath of Fire, the Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, and many others. But Super Mario RPG was my first RPG, so it still has a warm and fuzzy place in my heart. FFVII was my first game for my Playstation, so that also has a (slightly less) warm and fuzzy place in my heart. Those warm and fuzzy sentiments tend to cloud over the flaws in a game, no matter how bad it is.

People are entitled to their feelings. When someone says that their first RPG was FFVII, others shouldn't roll their eyes and dismiss anything else he says out of hand. Stick brings up a valid point that I know many people share. RPGs aren't what they used to be. Is that just because we are looking through rose-colored nostalgia glasses, or because the old games were really better? Think of it this way, the more you play or watch anything, the more easily you can identify the cliches of the genre. The ideas that were neat and innovative in the first game you played are no longer as neat the more you see them. It's the same with reading Sci-Fi novels or watching Anime.

Anyway, this was long, but I do have a completely unrelated question.

In Suikoden II, when you level up your characters in normal battle, does it have any effect on the strength of a unit in a large battle scene (the ones where you command individual units)? For example, if I were to level up the characters in Viktor's unit like mad, would it change the unit's attack power in the battle scenes?

How's that for non sequitur?

Carolyn Chen

Googleshng:
According to my sources, yes it does help you, although not all that noticably.

Anyway though, getting back to your FF7 tirade, first off I feel I should note that I did no bashing of FF7 fanboys this week. I have no problem with people who never played any RPGs before FF7, and in fact if I knew any personally the biggest reaction it'd get from me is that I'd likely let them borrow some of my old favorites.

That said, I'm sorry to break this to you, but it IS an estabilished fact that those fans of RPGs who are illiterate nigh braindead losers with nothing better to do than type in all caps in public forums are almost entirely a subset of people whose first RPG was FF7.

That sort of thing happens all the time really. I mean, the bulk of racists in this country are white people, every Myst game is a Graphic Adventure...

 
This is one of those "Hey, is this really for the column?" letters

Whatever happened to Sailor Dune's page? With Xenosaga just out, I thought to myself, "Wow, those Xenogears comics were rad to the max!" But mysteriously, as with all things that seem to mak eone blissful, Sailor Dune has vanished. Are the comics still around at least?

(And slimes don't reproduce via GP, they lay eggs. Just ask Mr. Monster.....MUAHAHA!)

Noi

Googleshng:
To those who are unaware, Sailor Dune, in addition to being my cousin and the acting left hemisphere of my brain, was once known for a series of comics spoofing Xenogears. Then for one reason or other like an ISP swap, his page went poof. But lo, it went with the promise of returning some day, like the monster from a horror movie, or Frosty. If it comes down to it, I'll have to steal yon comics next time I see him and throw them up on my page. The Gazelle Ministry one is priceless.

 
Silicon Dating

Concerning the letter by BL Alien, about the annoyance of the countdown to shipdate, when nobody is going to get it, well he was mistaken there. I had preordered my copy of Xenosaga at Gamestop, and imagine my surprise when on Feb. 24, 2003, I got a call stating that on Feb 25, 2003, after 5 pm PST, I would be able to pick up my copy of Xenosaga at the store. Come Feb 25, 2003, 5:18 pm PST, I stop by in the store, and picked up my copy of the game right there and then and went home. Of course, I haven't bothered to play it yet, as I'm still slowly but surely finishing my Import version of Xenosaga, but one of these days I'll get around to finishing the game. Especially with the help of the english strategy guide. That will definetely speed things up a bit.

Oh by the way, for the last couple months at work, I've been slowly going through the archives for this column, all the way at the beginning when it was called Q&AK, and I noticed that on Nov. 25, 1998, and Dec. 4, 1998, that a Googleshng had mailed in a letter that got posted on those columns. So I was wondering, are those letter written by you, or by someone else? I've only gotten up to mid Feb of 1999, so I don't know if there's anymore or not, but I find it to be a tad amusing, especially reading some of my old letters that got posted on the column as well.

Thanks --CCMax

Googleshng:
See, that's why everyone just posts ship dates. Depending where you live, when you get it can vary widely.

Oh, and yes, before I started running this column, I used to read it and write in regularly. I mean REGULARLY too. The day I was hired was the first day in the history of this site when i didn't send a letter in. The ironic part? I can never think of questions on the weekends now.

 
Arcadian goodness.

Hey goog,

It's my birthday next week, and I'm know I'm gonna get xenosaga. However i'll probably get enough cash to pick up another game from relatives. I was considering Skies of Arcadia mainly because i love my Gamecube to pieces and need a good RPG for it. But what's so good about the game that made you love it so?

I hope this letter finds you well.

Barieuph "The Thunder Plains are a pain" @hotmail.com

Googleshng:
I'd normally love to praise SoA at you, but as I just fought off a flu recently and could probably use some extra sleep tonight, I'll take the lazy way out and just point you at our review and hope that covers it.

 
I say I need sleep, and then I print 3 more letters.

Salutations Google,

Hiya, just wanted to ask a few questions...

First, I've read somewhere on RPGamer that one of the later episodes of Xenosaga will be a remake of Xenogears. Now that's all fine and dandy, but I was wondering, would there be any legal problems, considering Xenogears was published by Square? I don't really know much about how copywrite works in relation to the video game industry, or if Square themselves actually own any kind of copywrites on Xenogears...

Secondly, back in the day, when a lot of now classic RPGs were coming out for the playstaion, a little game called Lunar: The Silver Star Story Complete was released. I was a young lad, and had no means of income and my parents to regularly support my video gaming habit, so I was never able to pick it up. Now that I have the means to pick it up money wise, I can't find it anywhere. I mean, I'm sure I COULD find it if I spent enough time, but I'm not usually the kind of guy who goes out of his way to pick something 5 years old up. So anyway, pretty much all of your opinions on RPGs match my own, therefor I respect it greatly, a lot of people have been telling me it's a must play, so do you think the game is good enough to hunt down? Oh, and I don't care much for getting the GBA remake...I want the anime cuts if I get it at all.

Well...I can't think of anything else, and that was kind of long, so that'll be all.

Later,
ForneverDreams

Googleshng:
Xenosaga- They worked all that out when the game was first announced with a nice little stock and pronoun sharing deal.

Lunar- The game has been rereleased more than any other game in history (insert cheap Capcom joke here), so you should be able to find a copy somewhere. The most creative choice that comes to mind is eBay, but you can probably find it cheaper if you poke around. Oh, and yes, it's worth it. Oldschool charm and whatnot.

 
Disco Stu is uh.. scratched.

Hey, Goog.

I have a really great friend who gave me his PS1 for Christmas after he found out he was getting a PS2 (see, we poor people have to make good friends and be very patient in order to get any sort of console beyond a very modest PC--if that can be considered a console). Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful beyond words. Problem is, the thing's kind of ricketty, as it was used in ludicrous amounts by its previous owner (who mastered FFVII literally scores of times). Ricketty, as in...well, you know that little thing you put the disc on (henceforth referred to as the "doohickey")? If I'm not careful, it comes off while I'm taking a disc out of the PS.

At first, that wasn't too annoying. But recently, I decided that it might be nice to play FF6 again. I first played it some years ago on an emulator (yeah, yeah, I know) and really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be fun to play it again. Thing is, the disc I have is really scratched up, and I don't have the money to blow thirty bucks on my own copy of FFA. Sure, I know about the "turning the PS upside-down" trick, but if I try that, the doohickey falls off, and the disc spins like a top on the lid of the PS. Thus far, I've pretty much been playing (I've only gotten to the point where I can first leave Narshe--as in, really early on) rather tentatively, sending up a prayer every once in awhile that this won't be the part where the disc stops on a scratch. And yes, it's already happened.

So here's my question: are there any other tricks to use for scratched discs? Thanks.

-Captain Faris

P.S. I was looking through some of the old archives while bored and stumbled upon an old letter I sent some time ago. I had a good laugh at myself when I realized I'd accidentally asked Lord Brian for the title of the wrong CC song. I'd meant to ask for the title of the song that seems to be the theme of the Dragon gods, not the music it plays during the battle with Miguel. Oops. There, now you can laugh at me, too.

Googleshng:
There are many ways to fix a scratched CD, ranging from the officially recognized (using a disc fixing kit), to the dubious (was it toothpaste or shaving cream?) I'd suggest doing something about getting a working PSX though.

 
This is odd.

Okay I just got Xenosaga in the mail today and have played about the first 6 hours of it, and so far, I am really unimpressed. The dialogue is really dull, the characters are boring, and the gameplay is hardly even there. I know that as far as gameplay goes that I should have expected it from seeing all the reviews floating around, but still, the whole thing just seems...bland and boring. I think the character designs are really nice, but that's about as far as it goes. I really hope the game gets better, because I loved Xenogears to death. Anyway, that's about it. Thanks for reading, and see ya later!

.Sakaji

Googleshng:
OK, so basically what you're saying here is "I bought a game which I didn't think I would like based on everything I heard about it, and I didn't like it!"

You'll have to excuse my lack of sympathy on the matter.




The Last Laugh:

Well, that's the column. NonCon is tomorrow, so I suppose I might see some of you there... actually, based on my experience last year I probably won't. It's not like it was poorly attended, it was just a sort of From Beyond sorta thing...

Googleshng "Why do I make reference to books nobody has read?" @rpgamer.com

Probably so I can quote Handy. "Read a book!" Yeah, I do it with shows too.

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